Evanston officials say more than 60 residents and staff at the North Shore Retirement Hotel have been sickened over the past two weeks with Norovirus, a gastrointestinal infection.

The city’s health director, Evonda Thomas, is asking all long term care facilities and retirement communities in Evanston to report unusual cases of gastroenteritis, the symptoms of which are diarrhea, vomiting, and stomach cramps.

With the confirmed outbreak at the North Shore, Thomas said, “It is vital that any other facilities experiencing similar illnesses contact the Department’s Communicable Disease Unit at 847-866-2962.”

The outbreak at the North Shore Hotel began on March 19, and Thomas says individuals continue to report experiencing symptoms.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, Norovirus illness often begins suddenly and when infected, individuals may experience stomach cramping, vomiting, or diarrhea.

Infections are usually not serious and most people recover within 1 or 2 days with no long-term health effects. However, more severe illness is possible, particularly in young children, the elderly, and people with other health conditions, and it can lead to hospitalization and even death.

Norovirus can spread rapidly from person to person in crowded, closed places like long-term care facilities, daycare centers, schools, hotels, and cruise ships. It’s usually spread through contaminated food or water, and by touching contaminated surfaces.

There is no vaccine to prevent Norovirus infection and there is no drug to treat people who are sick from the virus. However, the following practical steps can be followed to prevent further transmission:

  • Wash hands often always using soap, warm water for at least 20 seconds
  • If you’re sick don’t prepare food
  • Clean and sanitize surfaces
  • Wash laundry thoroughly and dry in a machine using heat

The Evanston Health Department will continue to collect samples for confirmation of new cases. North Shore Hotel has hired an additional cleaning crew that will specifically address cleaning and sanitizing surfaces, places where the virus can survive and be passed on.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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